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MY “HONEY-DO” LIST…

” Mind your beeswax!” is the number one item on this list, so let’s do some digging! by Bill Emigh

When I first under-took this assignment, I initially was going to research the uses for the actual honey. We are all aware of the culinary aspect of this versatile ingredient, but glazing a ham doesn’t scratch the surface of this partially digested plant nectar made by some hard working bees; mainly honey bees, but other bees and insects are capable of producing honey. Honey is available in various nomenclatures. Clover honey is still honey, but it is made from the nectar of actual clover, blueberry honey is made from the blueberry bloom nectar, etc. They all have their own distinctive flavor and color. I encourage you to visit the area where the honey is produced if possible, as well as spend a few hours being fascinated by the plethora of non- culinary uses for honey.

Sweet Honey. Antonio M. Rosario/Getty Images

BEESWAX??? As a young boy growing up, my parents and elders would tell me to “CLEAN THE BEESWAX OUT OF MY EARS” whenever I had difficulty hearing them or, let’s be honest, I was probably just ignoring them. However, the contents of my ear canals are not the wax I am referring to. What is beeswax? Essentially, it is a product made from the actual honeycomb. To make one pound of beeswax, bees travel over 150,000 miles and consume 8 times as much honey. Beeswax is available in yellow[natural], white or bleached [yellow beeswax that is bleached]. There are also man-made varieties that resemble actual beeswax. You may see something called beeswax absolute. This is yellow beeswax treated with alcohol.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Knowing this, I understand why beeswax products have a higher price tag. Speaking of products, let’s discuss a few common as well as little known uses for this sought after commodity. Cosmetics- Used mainly as an emulsifier, thickener or stiffening agent for make-up. It is also used in perfumes and soaps as a fragrance agent. It is also used in lip balm, lip gloss and hand creams. Medicinal- Beeswax has many uses in the realm of medical care. It has value in lowering cholesterol, relieving diarrhea, pain, ulcers and reducing swelling. It is also used to coat pills to enable easier swallowing. Beeswax has also been known to relieve hiccups. Beeswax is a main ingredient in many skin care products. Alternative medicinal uses that have insufficient proof of effectiveness but I feel obligated to discuss- jock itch, hemorrhoids, diaper rash, fungal infections and ringworm are said to show improvement when a mixture of beeswax, honey and olive oil are applied. Manufacturing- “Surfs Up Dudes”, beeswax is common in application to surfboards and the ancient practice of using beeswax to make candles is well documented, but this versatile compound has lesser known utilization dating back to medieval times. Beeswax has been used in the field of dentistry as filling materials, lubricants for firearms and bows. It was used as a sealing compound for sealing official decrees from royalty and persons with titles, then their official seal was pressed into it. Shoe and furniture polish also contain beeswax. Another use was to strengthen ropes, sewing threads and wooden structures. As you can clearly see, the uses or beeswax are almost endless. It has proven to be a valuable product through-out history, and I barely cracked the hive on its resourcefulness. As I researched this commodity, I let my mind wander to the effects we are having on the bee population. Without bees, we will be subjected to manufactured beeswax,and how inferior that truly is, compared to the real thing.

CITATIONS : https://www.healthline.com/health/9-unexpected-uses-for-honey https://www.livescience.com/37611-what-is-honey-honeybees.htmlhttps://www.thespruceeats.com/various-honey-flavors-2217015 https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-305/beeswax Image credits: Antonio M. Rosario / Getty Images https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beeswax

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ARE YOU READY FOR SOME…SNACKS?

It’s that time of the year again.. The smell of autumn will soon be in the air and that means FOOTBALL is near. Before long, we’ll be gathering with family and friends for a tailgate at the stadium or a calm, peaceful day watching our favorite college or pro team compete for a victory. When I say calm and peaceful, I’m referring to those households unlike mine, where stress and anxiety are only subdued by good snacks. After all, “Food is the gateway to happiness.” I know that’s not the famous cliche’, but it’s my motto for life..or at least nervous situations? I want to share with you a few of my favorite snacks. I use recipes found on various websites like allrecipes.com or thespruceeats.com.

My all-time favorite gameday,  [or anyday] snack/meal is my Build Your Own Nachos.

Seasoning mix for the proteins are made in advance and I keep them in a sealed jar and use 2 tablespoons per pound of meat, which is equal to 1 packet of store bought mix. A baggie with a zipper top works well too if access to a jar isn’t doable. I used a recipe from gimmedelicious.com and have added to it to satisfy my taste.

  • 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon minced onion (dried)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper

I usually prepare 2 lbs of ground beef when I make my nachos, but chicken, shrimp or whatever protein you desire can easily be substituted or added to give your nachos more dimension.                                                                                                                        There are a wide variety of bagged tortilla chips on the market to choose from. I use 1 bag per 3 people. I also place the chips on a cookie sheet and place in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes prior to nacho assembly.                                                                                                                           I love refried beans for my nachos. To me, the name brand canned ones have great flavor so I don’t go through the trouble to make them from scratch. I like the fat-free option because it makes me feel like I’m eating healthier.  Make sure he beans are heated up, because the taste of cool ones is unpleasant.                                                                                                         Cheese is essential for flavorful nachos. I prefer a melted cheddar to drizzle over the chips, meat and beans, then I add grated pepper jack atop the vegetables. For my company that are not fond of spicy foods, I offer a grated sharp cheddar. Like I said, it’s a build your own nachos, so add or subtract as you will.                                                                                                                 Sour cream is another condiment that I offer. I can my own salsas so of course I’m going to highlight them as a topping.                                     Whether you prefer a mild or hot salsa, I got you covered. I can my own salsas from what my garden gifts me with, so I take pride in highlighting it.                                                                                                                                      As far as the vegetables go, I feel that diced fresh tomatoes, chiffonade lettuce [iceberg or romaine], finely diced sweet onions, sliced jalapenos for the adventurous eaters and sliced black olives are the mainstay for a hearty and delicious nacho plate.img_20190608_175133158

FRIES..FRIES..FRIES..and Bacon too..                                                           Another one of my favorite snacks is seasoned and/or loaded fries. I usually make these with six medium sized russet potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch square, 3 inch long sticks.  I have gotten away from using the deep fat fryer and now utilize my air fryer or oven. I take my fry sticks, rinse and drain. Once they are dried out, I’ll put then in a bowl and add 1 tablespoon canola or olive oil, [vegetable oil can also be used, but I’m watching my figure..through squinted eyes albeit], then I season them with either my taco seasoning, Italian blend or just air fry or bake them [at 425 for 15-20 minutes] plain to be topped with melted cheese and bacon after they are done cooking.                                                                                                                If deep frying is your go to..fry up the sticks, drain the oil, then while the fries are still hot, add the seasoning of choice and mix until fries are completely covered.                                                                                                   Recently, Ive been experimenting with different ways to use the fresh produce from my garden and I’ve replaced the potatoes with zucchini. A point that I feel  I should enlighten you on is that zucchini and squash contain a lot of water and when baked, they get soggy and limp. To avoid this, I cut mine a little thicker and ensure that each stick has some rind on it. This helps keep them more firm. You could always use your deep fryer set at 375 and fry until desired crispness is obtained. It’s still a veggie..right?img_20190627_175840165

Ever have that moment when you realized that you need a snack for a party or gathering, but you only have a few hours to get it done? I got you covered with three simple ingredients and a crock pot. 1 or 2 packages of those cocktail weenies [generic ones are fine], 1 bottle [12.5-15 ounce] chili sauce and 1 jar [24-32 ounce] grape jelly. Turn crock pot to high, add jelly and chili sauce, allow to begin to liquidfy, then add cocktail weenies. Cover and cook for 21/2-3 hrs on high, then reduce heat to medium- medium low. Have some tooth picks, small plates and to really be high end, finely chopped fresh basil to sprinkle over these bite size smokey treats.

I hope that my snacks have tempted your taste buds and got your mind creating your own variations for a snackfest…

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WEEDS?? or Nature’s Herbs??

HYPOCHAERIS GLABRA ( SMOOTH CAT’S EAR or FALSE DANDELION)

Bill Emigh

Photo from the Gallery of Bill Emigh

ORIGIN: This plant, often viewed as a troublesome weed, is an overlooked “diamond in the rough” when it comes to the culinary world. The false dandelion originated in the Middle East, Europe and the northern regions of Africa. It has been introduced to 21 of the 50 United States, including Hawaii as well as 2 of the 13 Canadian Provinces and Vancouver Island. It is thought that the smooth cat’s ear was brought to North America by accident because as it dries out, seeds are spread via the blowing wind, [just like dandelions] and these seeds attached to clothing or other goods being shipped for trade and commerce.

VARIATIONS and DIFFERENCES: The Smooth Cat’s Ear[ hypochaeris glabra] is a relative of the more widely known Dandelion [taraxacum officinalel]. There are a few key differences between the 2, but in no way do they diminish the versatility of either plant. The cat’s ear has lobed and hairier leaves whereas the leaves of the dandelion are jagged in appearance. Dandelions have only 1 flower per stem but the cat’s ear will have multiple flowering branches. Also the stem of the dandelion has a white latex sap within it and the cat’s ear does not. This attribute allows the stem of the cat’s ear to be edible. Another close relative is the Hairy Cat’s Ear [hypochaeris radicata]

USES: Although widely considered a non-invasive weed, earlier cultures realized the benefits of this perennial plant. The blooms and stems were regularly used as tabletop decor, the flowering blooms would be used as an ink substitute for crafting and the dried out blooms would provide endless entertainment for children as they would chase the seeds as they were carried away by the wind. Many dreams and wishes were riding on those seeds as they disappeared into the atmosphere. Because the Hypochaeris glabra is in the same flora family as the dandelion [Taraxacum Officinale], it has many of the same edible uses. The blooms are often eaten fresh,raw and/or used as garnishes. The stems of the hypochaeris glabra do not contain the white latex-ish sap that the dandelions do, so they too can be consumed raw; however, they are known to be bland and the older plants will have fibrous texture that can be unappealing. The leaves of young plants are sought after for use in salads because they have a bitterness to them that compliments the other flavors of the dish. The leaves can also be steamed and used to wrap other ingredients in or just to stifle the bitterness. As with it’s more widely known, but less available relative, the dandelion, the roots of the hypochaeris glabra can be dried out and used as a coffee substitute.

Photo from the gallery of Bill Emigh

Photo from the gallery of Bill Emigh

WARNINGS///

We live in an ever-changing world and often times we create or destroy things that were once safe but now are hazardous to our health. I am speaking about herbicides and pollutants. You should always do responsible research before consuming any plant in the wild. There are numerous books and other publications available in physical form as well as online that give thorough in-depth descriptions and uses. With this in mind, you must also consider the environment that the plant is being harvested from. Factors like herbicide use, polluted water sources, natural disasters and proximity to power plants, reactors or numerous drilling or excavating sites can seriously damage the usability of the plant and in fact can make them toxic. Use extreme caution when foraging in a new or changed area.

CITATIONS:

http://plantingjustice.org/blog/now-eat-dem-weeds https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=HYGL2 https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/53103-Hypochaeris-glabra https://www.cal-ipc.org/plants/profile/hypochaeris-glabra-profile/ https://www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/114917 http://www.southeasternflora.com/view_flora.php?plantid=1678 http://www.wildplantforager.com/blog/wild-edibles-how-to-identify-and-eat-cats-ear-flatweed-false-dandelion https://www.eatthatweed.com/ https://www.flickr.com/photos/87106229@N05/sets/72157631743143384